With the various amount of rule changes to special teams like pushing the kickoff line forward, no running start at the kickoff, and making onside kicks almost impossible to covert, players and teams are trying to bring back some of the luster special teams used to have in the NFL.
The NFL announced a handful of rule change proposals during the recent owner’s meetings. Some focus on special teams like improving the odds on onside kicks, where the opposing team is only allowed to have nine players instead of 10 or 11 between 10 to 25 yards of the kickoff spot. A fourth-and-15 alternative over the onside kick gained some popularity after the XFL instituted this alternative.
Either way, as you can see, special teams is one of the hot topics to breathe some life into what some believe to be a dying aspect to the overall game. One player has an idea that could make games interesting if it ever gets adopted.
Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox proposed a kickoff scoring idea. If the kicker can get the ball through the uprights on the kickoff, the team should be awarded one point.
The logistics of accomplishing such a feat would extraordinary in itself. Not only are we talking close to an 80-yard bomb, but the kickers will have to have some accuracy to get the ball through the uprights at that distance. Out of the kickers, who attempted at least 60 kickoffs last year, only three averaged at least 70 yards: Tampa Bay P Bradley Pinion (72.4), Kansas City Chiefs K Harrison Butker (70.7), and Carolina Panthers K Joey Slye (70.2).
Now you wonder where Fox ended up on the list? He was second-to-last with 63.5 yards per attempt, barely behind Dan Bailey with 63.4 for last.
I wouldn’t put much blame on Fox, considering he was able to flip fields with his towering punts, so it was not a question of strength, but more on the previous coaching staff’s philosophy in relying on their special teams to make stops instead of giving the ball at the 25. Due to this scheme, Fox had the highest return rate, where 65% of his kickoffs were returned.
Surely most Lions fans would have no doubt Fox could boot through the uprights without any help, but between penalties or other variables, this could make this situation a little more interesting. Instead of an 80-yard attempt, it could easily turn into a 65-yard attempt, and with a running start, most kickers could make that.
Former Colt punter and special teams advocator Pat McAfee talked about it on his show, and it would be awesome and electrifying, especially for a game-winning situation. Even though he knows this would likely get shot down, he did add some wrinkles they could add, like teams starting at the 35 if they miss, or add blockers at the end zone to help justify the rule.
It would be fun to see teams utilize their punters and kickers differently than we are accustomed to seeing and adding a new dynamic to scoring. There is something about a kicker kicking the ever daylights out of the ball, and it would be exciting to see if it counted for something. Even though it’s just a single point, it could make the difference between a win, a loss, or a potential playoff spot.